Johnny Saves a Puppy!

Right away this morning Johnny and Tony were commenting that the diary seems to omit stories about Dennis’ mistakes, such as misleading them on a 4-mile wrong turn detour into Walker a day earlier. The new guys just don’t quite get it sometimes! This is the CEM. I write the diary. The stories are carefully selected by me, and I have writer’s discretion and editorial license. That’s just the way it is!

Now, on with the day. We woke to a quite beautiful morning, sun shining over the lake and a light breeze blowing from the north. After a coffee and cereal breakfast and a quick tube replacement on John’s bike, we began pedaling on the Heartland Trail 18 miles to Park Rapids and then back again, spotting several deer along the way. The conditions were excellent and the ride smooth as we rolled back into Akeley in the early afternoon. Josh was ready for us with leftover steak and chicken, lunch meat, cheese and chips, but he seemed to be hording the remains of the pulled pork. Kyle, thanks again! We have made it nearly a week on the pork.

Our paths diverged in the afternoon as Josh and Dennis packed up the rigs to move them on to Walker; Johnny and Tony rode east to the Paul Bunyan connection to take a trip through the spectacular Chippewa Forest section and then back to Walker; John and Jack continued on the Heartland Trail through Walker and in the direction of Cass Lake about 8 miles to their turn around point. Josh and Dennis made a strategic error while moving the rigs, turning down a GPS-led gravel private drive. Thankfully there was a connector road at the bottom of the hill, and they were able to circle back to the highway.

We all finished up at around 4:30 and then headed toward Grand Rapids. Stopping for gas in Cass Lake, Johnny spotted a small dog running on the highway, so he jumped out to grab it and save it from being run over. Johnny is now known as the Puppy Savior, so both of the new guys have nicknames, although one much more flattering than the other. We couldn’t just leave the puppy along the roadside, so into the RV she went and onward we drove.

Continuing along Highway 2 the RV blew a tire. This trip to Grand Rapids was just getting longer. Luckily the blown tire was an inside tire on the rear, and John was able to continue driving, although at a very slow 35-40 mph. We limped into the Itasca County Campground well past our appointed time to meet up with our Leg 3 riders and support drivers. We greeted Joy, Kathy, Doug and Zach, and said our good-byes to Johnny, Tony and Josh, sending the Leg 2 DQ gift card with them, so they could get some food on the road.

The rest of us ate brats and burgers, finishing just as the 24/7 tire guy showed up to change our tire. We are fine with changing bike tires, but prefer to leave the RV to the experts. The tires all have some wear from sitting in the open all winter long each year, showing some separation near the treads, so we arranged to have them all replaced tomorrow. We will alter our plans, but all things considered, we were very fortunate in all aspects of this incident, including location, timing and the actual tire blown. It’s just another ho-hum day on the trail! We’ll see what tomorrow brings.